Why buy an office chair mat?
Unused office chairs are harmless, but if you sit in an office chair for 40+ hours per week, the chair is bound to create scuffs on hard floors and indentations on the carpet. There’s no reason to blame yourself for the damage; all-sized bodies add pressure to the floor and force when you move in the chair. It’s not you; it’s the lack of a quality mat. Mats can also protect the floor from coffee spills, food splatters, crumbs, and staples; the list goes on. Another reason to buy an office chair mat, especially in carpeted areas, is better mobility. Rolling on a soft carpet can be difficult, so a firmer mat will provide easier movement.
What should you look for in an office chair mat?
- Size: It’s a lot like buying a rug; you need to measure the space you plan to situate an office chair mat first. What size of an area do you have to work with? From there, define the perimeter of the area you tend to cover in your office chair. Do you like to roll from the desk area to an adjacent surface where the printer sits? If so, measure the distance between locations. How far forward do your feet reach? The dimensions of your desk and the length of your legs play a role. Look for mats with long lips if your feet extend far under the desk.
- Floor: We have yet to find a quality office chair mat suited to carpet and hard floors. If you have a carpeted office, take into account the pile of the carpet. Some mats are made for high-pile carpets with cleats and studs on the bottom side to grip the fabric. Low-pile mats have shorter, less pointy studs. If you pair a thick carpet with a low-pile mat, expect the mat to curl and your chair to move only with great exertion. As you can imagine, spiky mats will likely damage a hardwood floor, especially when pressed down with you and your chair. Not only that, your chair wouldn’t roll very well. Instead, you want to look for hardwood or hard floor-only mats. They adhere to the floor in a way that makes maneuvering your chair easy.
- Material: Most office chair mats are made of plastics like polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride, or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Often translucent, they don’t affect the appearance or decor of your office very much. Some plastics are safer than others; some are considered more environmentally sound. We haven’t dug into the details of how each plastic performs or which works best as an office chair mat. Our best recommendation is to consider whether toxic-free material is or isn’t meaningful to you. We also review a polyester mat that, as a fabric, offers a different visual and tactile experience.
What should you expect to spend on an office chair mat?
The answer is not that much. Of the mats we review for you here, the average cost is around $40. The caveat is that the larger the mat, the more expensive. Quality material changes price, too. For example, we found a $60 mat that is GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified and features a uniquely-shaped cleat system, so design technology ups the ante as well.
OFM ESS Collection Chair Mat
A thick, studded chair mat for thick carpeting with an extended lip for protection beneath the feet.
Pros: Do you have medium pile carpeting? If so, the OFM office chair mat was made just for you. Because it’s composed of transparent polyurethane, the mat won’t hide the colors of your carpet but allow them to shine through. It has aesthetic value and tough-as-nails protection, too. It’s a thick 2.2-millimeter mat covered in molded cleats and studs on the bottom side so that it won’t move around. The ramped edges work like curb ramps on sidewalks. Rather than having to lean back and do a wheelie to mount the mat, you can just roll on and off, no problem. An extended lip also fits beneath your feet to protect your carpet from high heels, nervous feet tapping, or dirt.
Cons: Numerous users say the mat is tough to unroll. For some, the mat never flattened out but bubbled in some areas, even after use.
Bottom Line: The OFM office chair mat works only for medium-pile carpets; if you’re a candidate, it makes a great product for the price. The rectangular mat is available in two sizes.
Dimex Low Pile Carpet Office Chair Mat
A low profile vinyl office chair mat for compact workspaces.
Pros: This low pile vinyl office chair mat has a smooth top surface and tough, cleated backing. It grips carpet up to 0.25 inches thick, which is just what you want when you roll so that the mat doesn’t move too. Translucent by design, it won’t add or detract from your office decor. It covers about 12 square feet, just right for smaller areas like apartments or home offices. There is a section that fits under the desk for complete protection.
Cons: It’s all too easy to mistake the size of your space and order the wrong-sized mat. Be sure to measure your space carefully to avoid the frustration of having to return it.
Bottom Line: The Dimex office chair mat stands out as one of the most popular among users. It seems to get the job done by firmly gripping the carpet to offer the best protection possible.
SHAREWIN Chair Mat for Hardwood Floors
A translucent, thin office chair mat that's ideal for hard floors and made of non-toxic vinyl.
Pros: This hard floor office chair mat is thinner than mats for carpet, at 1.5 millimeters, which is what you want to cover hard surfaces. There’s no give to a hard floor, so if the chair rolls off the mat for any reason, it won’t spin out because the height differential is nominal. The smooth bottom side provides a no-slip surface, while the top side has some texture for better wheel traction. SHAREWIN prides itself on its BPA-free, 100% recycled, non-toxic polyvinyl chloride mat material. It’s odor-free, dirt-resistant, and transparent.
Cons: While it’s dirt-resistant, it does get dirty. And because the material is transparent and used on a hard surface, it’s important to clean it regularly.
Bottom Line: While it’s described as an office chair mat for hardwood floors, it works just as well on parquet, linoleum, and tiled floors; just don’t use it on carpet.
SALLOUS Chair Mat for Hard Floors
A fabric mat for hard floors with a non-slip, non-gluey, vacuum technology fit.
Pros: This large 100% polyester fiber mat protects hard floors of all types. For example, the material and design reduce your sound as you roll from computer to printer in your office chair. Noise reduction is a characteristic often wanted by remote workers with home offices, especially when children, roommates, or families are home. If that describes your situation, you may also appreciate the toxic-free material of the office chair mat, as it’s odorless and durable. The top side of the mat features a smooth surface for easy gliding. A non-slip layer covers the bottom and sticks securely to the floor, preventing curling at the edges and air bubbles from forming. Don’t worry; no glue is involved! It grips the floor with suction pores, creating an air-tight vacuum with the pressure of the chair, your feet, and use in general.
Cons: A handful of users say the fabric appears to be cheaply made.
Bottom Line: The SALLOUS fabric office chair mat stands out from the typical translucent office mat. It may add a pleasing decorative contrast to your hard-floor office. It’s also easy to clean with a vacuum or lint remover.
Gorilla Grip Desk Chair Mat
This spiked bottom and smooth top mat grips carpets and ensures a smooth office chair glide
Pros: This Gorilla Grip mat adheres to low pile carpeted floors with a spiked and studded bottom. The heavy-duty PET material provides a sturdy surface so you can gracefully roll in any direction on the large mat. Durable and thick, the Gorilla Grip defies heavy use, never cracking or curling. The thickness and stability of the mat will withstand the weight of your chair and prevent divots or indentations from appearing on your carpet.
Cons: It’s more expensive than other options.
Bottom Line: This Gorilla Grip mat boasts heavy-duty, reliable, and genuinely grippy product qualities. Its translucence retains your current office decor allure.
Spring for a good office chair and a good office chair mat for the most comfortable experience possible. The mat gives you better control over your movements and protects the floor from the wheels and pressure from your chair.